Tag Archives: Mason Jennings

Tune In Tuesday: 5/11

Today’s installment of Tune in Tuesday features six random albums. 

Monsters of Folk

Monsters of Folk

Monsters of Folk are the latest “Super Group” to hit the music scene.  Comprised of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), M. Ward, and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes).  These boys bring back the sweet harmonies of classic bands like The Eagles and Crosby, Stills, & Nash and evoke the not so distant memory of The Traveling Wilburys.

The music is a mixed bag of rock, folk, and as mentioned before, sweet harmony, and lush melodies.  The lead track on the album “Dear God (Sincerely MOF)” is a trippy little number that is gently bathed in R&B and is based around a sample of the 1970 gospel song “Is There Any Love” by Trevor Dandy.

Key tracks: His Master’s Voice, Temazcal, Losin Yo Head.

Joy

Phish

This is the newest ad fourteenth studio album form the Vermont Jam band.  It is also the album that brought the band back from a four year hiatus and reunited them with produce Steve Lillywhite.  The album is aptly titled as the songs all seem to have a happy, joyful quality to them.  If you have a fan or former fan, check it out and get reacquainted with the boys from Phish.

Key Tracks: Time Turns Elastic, Backwards Down the Number Line, Twenty Years Later

En Concert

Jack Johnson

This album is a great cross section of all of Jack’s work and has guest appearances by Eddie Vedder and Paula Fuga.  It also showcases the harmonizing backing vocals of Zach Gil (Animal Liberation Orchestra), who has toured with Johnson in the past but only recently became a permanent fixture on the tour. 

The special addition has a DVD that captures various stages of his 2008 tour.  The DVD has more guest appearances by the likes of Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder, Mason Jennings, Matt Costa, G. Love & Special Sauce.

Key Tracks: Constellations (w/ Eddie Vedder), Gone, Flake, and Times Like These

White Lies for Dark Times

Ben Harper & the Relentless 7

The Relentless 7 is Ben’s latest incarnation of a band and is a bit heavier than the Innocent Criminals.  The album is solid from start to finish and is not a dramatic departure from any of Ben’s other work.  He still blazes on the slide guitar and is the focal vocal point of the band. 

Key Tracks: Faithfully Remain, Skin Thin, Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart), Shimmer and Shine.

Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away

Slaid Cleaves

Slaid Cleaves is pure musical greatness and genius.  This Austin based singer and songwriter is a thoughtfully introspective writer who catches the subtle nuances of life in this crazy world.  He sings of love, lost, hope, faith, and the lack there of.  Not afraid to raise a political edge with his music but never appearing to be preachy or on a soapbox.  If you have not heard of him, he is well worth checking out. 

Key Tracks: Beautiful Thing, Cry, Dreams, Hard to Believe

Natural Forces

Lyle Lovett

Natural Forces is the latest album from Texas’s own Grammy winner Lyle Lovett.  There is just something about the calm confidence in which Lyle sings his songs.  This album is typical Lovett, good song selection, well crafted, and a slight sense of humor. 

 Key Tracks: Pantry, Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel, Don’t You Think I Feel It Too

Read, review, and respond.

Great music awaits!


Concerts

We hear a song, purchase/download some music; it raises our awareness of the band and then we become a fan.  The concert is the culmination of our musical inclinations.  It is the holy grail of the musical experience.  At least, in our mind, it is. 

The concert is the musical equivalent of craps (the game of chance, not Jack in the Box 2 for $1 greasy tacos passing through your bowels)

Some nights go like this:

You purchase your ticket with the expectation that it will be musical bliss and a night to remember.  You get there, fight the crowd, listen to the mediocre, at best, opening act, and wait impatiently for the headlining show.   After what seems like an eternity, out stumbles the drunk/high lead singer, forgets the words to your favorite song, becomes enraged at the crowds displeasure and walks of the stage giving you the double fisted one finger salute. 

While other nights go like this:

You show up at some little dive barbeque joint and begin to think the show has been canceled because there are only four cars in the parking lot.  You go in, order some food and a beer, take you pick of the abundantly available tables and notice two chairs on the stage and a couple of guitars.  You take a seat, sip your bear and out strolls the singer and his buddy and the play for several hours, come sit down and thank you for coming to the show and take your request and play it before the night is over.

I’ve regaled you with some stories of concerts from my past and touted the greatness of Austin City Limits Music Festival but today, I’m going to chronologically list the concerts, to the best of my recollection, I’ve attended over the years.

Year Band
1983 Quiet Riot
Interesting Facts
7th grade, first concert to attend and broke my ankle that afternoon after being chased by a large classmate who took off his belt and began swinging it at me.  I left the hospital on crutches and planned on going to concert while my mother drove along beside me screaming at me to get in the car.  Being 12 and disabled, mom won and I missed the concert.  I did, however, get the t shirt as a consolation prize from my buddy who I gave the ticket to.
1985 Def Leppard
Interesting Facts
My first official concert that I actually got to attend.  Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX.  Oddly enough, I do not remember much about the concert other than it kicked much 14 year old musical butt.
1985-1989 Tom Petty

Stevie Nicks

Elton John

Don Henley

White Snake

Tesla

The Cult

Metallica

Interesting Facts
This period was the high school years and while there are funny stories, time has blurred the lines a bit.

  • One concert I went to with a group of girls and as soon as we got to Starplex Amphitheater, they all had to go to the rest room.  So, they opened the passenger door and all took turns squatting in the parking lot under the shroud of secrecy that was the afore mentioned door.  Don’t worry ladies; your identity is safe with me.
  • Another concert had some of the above mentioned girls and on the way home we got lost and drove around through an amazing fog which we likened to the moors, a Sherlock Holmes reference at the time, and eventually made it home.  Some of attendees were really upset with the turn of events.
  • White Snake concert we bought tickets from scalpers and got totally ripped off but thought we were so cool because we were seeing White Snake.
  • Metallica was an amazing show and the first time I had seen mosh pits and thoroughly enjoyed the frantic pace of the music.  Some fans really enjoyed the show and started lighting the lawn on fire and once security came out, the fire just seemed to move to another location.

 

1989-1992 Travis Tritt

Shenandoah

Various country acts at Billy Bobs

Interesting Facts
Some of my buddies were really in to country music and I would often tag along because I had nothing else to do and wanted to make some new female acquaintances. The Shenandoah concert was particularly memorable, not because the concert was good, in fact, I never actually saw them.  I got kicked out of the bar because I was 18 and using a fake ID to buy beer.  My buddies, of course, stayed and watched the show.  The crushing event of the night was that the girl I took to the show also stayed inside and I sat alone in the back of my friend’s truck for several hours.  The night was not a total loss, because I drank all of the beer in the cooler while sitting in the parking lot of Billy Bob’s.
1993-1995 Lots of local acts in the musical mecca of Denton, TX

Rush

Interesting Facts
The Rush show stands out for two reasons:To procure the tickets for this concert, my buddy and I left Denton very, very early on a Saturday morning after a very, very, late Friday night to go to Lewisville Mall to get tickets.  We arrived way too early and drove to Braums and got a double order of biscuits and gravy.  While this might not read as funny as it was, we were way hung over and those biscuits and gravy were the magic elixir that restored our health. Night of the concert we pick up our dates, have dinner and head to Dallas.  There is mild drinking, as colleges kids are known to do, and before you know it, we are on the floor of Reunion Arena basking in the glory of Rush.  On the way home there is some conversation of the concert and the girl that I took begins to nod off a bit and then suddenly hurls into and on the door.  We stop and ask if she is ok and she looks at us as if nothing happened and denies what is clearly on her chin, clothes, seat, floor, and of course door.  We get home she gets out like nothing happened.
1995-2005 The Dave Matthews BandMetallica

Linkin Park

Beastie Boys

Pat Green

Willie Nelson

Jack Johnson

Bob Dylan

Bruce Springsteen

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Merle Haggard

Tori Amos

Korn

Chevelle

Robert Earl Keen

Interesting Facts
All pretty good shows and some artist like Dave Matthews and Pat Green I’ve seen multiple times.  The one stand out concert story is this:A group of folks went to see Willie Nelson at Lone Star Park which is an outdoor horse track.  His stage was set back a bit and there were risers and bleachers that elevated the fans to better see the stage.  I am walking up, wearing loose cargo shorts and minding my own business, when I feel something moving up my leg and heading north central.  I look down and there is an older woman with her hand up my shorts grabbing my junk.  I jump up and swat at her as if she is some form of annoying insect and she looks up, smiles with what teeth she has left and says “Oh, excuse me” as if she had accidently bumped into me as were passing on a sidewalk.  She then turned and walked away as if nothing had happened.
2006-Present Pearl JamBen Harper

Foo Fighters

Tom Petty

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Wilco

Son Volt

Drive-By Truckers

State Radio

Brett Dennen

Bruce Springsteen

B-52’s

Robert Plant & Allison Krause

Joe Purdy

Cross Canadian Ragweed

The Killers

The Tragically Hip

The Eli Young Band

Pete Yorn

Bob Schneider

James McMurtry

Kris Kristofferson

Merle Haggard

Damien RiceDonovan Frankenreiter

Arcade Fire

The Shins

Okkervil River

Mason Jennings

The Black Keys

Ray LaMontagne

Queens of the Stone Age

Bob Dylan

Willie Nelson

Van Morrison

The Toadies

The Killers

John Mayer

Steve Earle

Bjork

Iron & Wine

Walt Wilkins

The Dead Weather

The Raconteurs

Lucinda Williams

Erin Ivey

Amos Lee

Interesting Facts
The majority of these artists have been seen at the Austin City Limits Music Festival which is an annual pilgrimage for me.  Some artist I have seen both at ACL and their own headlining tour.

So, there you have it, a little stroll down concert memory lane.  Let me know about some of your favorite or at least memorable concert experiences and who is a must see when they roll through town.

Great music awaits!


Music you should have listened to last month but can now watch!

Greetings music fans,

Today I will highlight the artists from last month and give my selection for their best album and song. 

This may seem like a copout blog, and it kind of is.  But, with good reason, we became foster parents to three endearing and for the moment, little puppies on Saturday, and they necessitate and deserve more attention than you!  Just kidding, you too deserve some attention, but this is as good as it gets today.  However, I did pull video for each song selected.  That should count for something!

Last month’s featured artists, in no particular order:

Artist Best Album Best Song
The Avett Brothers I and Love and You Ten Thousand Wordswww.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt6k8htvc9k
Bruce Robison Wrapped My Brother & Mewww.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3q8ShBkqBI
Counting Crows August and Everything After Anna Beginswww.youtube.com/watch?v=1tY9SNFAK2I
Doyle Bramhall II Jelly Cream So You Want It to Rainwww.youtube.com/watch?v=N52cpz6NJ_4
Drive By Truckers Brighter Than Creations Dark Gravity’s Gonewww.youtube.com/watch?v=BHnbiiPoMSU
G. Love & Special Sauce Philadelphonic Rainbowwww.youtube.com/watch?v=5glVe3BmjmM
James McMurtry Childish Things We Can’t Make It Herewww.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbWRfBZY-ng
Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard One Fast Move or I’m Gone Big Surwww.youtube.com/watch?v=NNIWA5esH4o
The Jayhawks Smile Bluewww.youtube.com/watch?v=GUVVGQjWFg4
Josh Ritter The Animal Years Wingswww.youtube.com/watch?v=X3OiUUEzwwI
Mason Jennings Boneclouds Fighter Girlwww.youtube.com/watch?v=ABfK9zajLdo
My Morning Jacket Z One Big Holidaywww.youtube.com/watch?v=_0Q9iAcPjzc
One Day as a Lion One Day as a Lion Wild Internationalwww.youtube.com/watch?v=6mKtt7F0rPU
Reckless Kelly Under the Table and Above the Sun Let’s Just Fallwww.youtube.com/watch?v=mW5uP8aYZsk
Robert Earl Keen Walking Distance Shades of Graywww.youtube.com/watch?v=eEgY93WECEc
Ryan Adams Gold Wonderwall (Cover)www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6xX6ZE16PI
Silversun Pickups Swoon There’s No Secrets This Yearwww.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbz-SqEd7JQ
Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures Scumbag Blueswww.youtube.com/watch?v=2M53SxSLHYk
The White Stripes Icky Thump Seven Nation Armywww.youtube.com/watch?v=xi8KdTk0u0g
Wilco Being There Sunken Treasureswww.youtube.com/watch?v=j_GQWm35Ndo

 

Great music waits!


You should be listening to Mason Jennings!

Mason Jennings is a folksy, poppy, singer/songwriter who has the prose of a poet, the political bend of a protester, and the heart of a musician.  He is renowned for his straightforward yet appealing melodies, intimate lyrics, and distinct vocal styling.  These attributes are just a few of the many reasons that have earned him a sizeable fan base which allowed him to sell over 30,000 copies of his first two albums without the benefit of any major label PR.

Jennings produced his self-titled debut album in 1997 on an analog four-track in the basement of a rented home, completing all of the instrumentation himself.  The album is raw yet familiar with an intimate sound due in large part to the above mentioned recording process.

His sophomore album Birds Flying Away is a lyrically darker departure from his debut with the focus on the sociopolitical aspects of the time.  Century Springs finds him a little more upbeat and really showcases his songwriting talent.  Use Your Voice is an intimate display of songwriting and warm folk sensibility with acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and the occasional harmonica. 

His most recent release Blood of Man is Jennings first venture into the electric territory and like his debut, this album finds Jennings playing all the instruments. 

Mason Jennings Discography:

  • Mason Jennings
  • Birds Flying Away
  • Living In the Moment (EP)
  • Century Springs
  • Use Your Voice
  • Bone Clouds
  • If You Ever Need a Reason (EP)
  • In The Ever
  • How Deep is the River
  • Blood of Man
  • Independent (EP)

Top 5 Mason Jennings Songs (In no particular order)

  1. Be Here Now (Bone Clouds)
  2. Fighter Girl (In the Ever)
  3. The Light (Part 2) (Use Your Voice)
  4. Big Sur (Mason Jennings)
  5. Lonely Road (Blood of Man)

Jennings sang two Bob Dylan songs for the soundtrack of the movie “I’m Not There” He covered “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

Jennings is currently signed to Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label and has released his last two albums on Brushfire.

Check out Mason Jennings at www.masonjennings.com.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DTiJHnF8tY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE8nJjogJZc

Mason Jennings’s music is available at iTunes, stores, and www.masonjennings.com

Great music awaits!


You should partake in Austin City Limits Music Festival!

Austin City Limits Music Festival is a three day music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas at Zilker Park and unites 65,000 people (music lovers, drunks, stoners, hippies, college kids who don’t own shirts, middle aged men and their 20 something mid life crisis, middle aged women wearing their mid life crisis, etc…) and showcases 130 bands that range from established acts, up and coming artists, and cult bands.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am a huge fan of Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) and have attended each year since 2005.  In addition to being a fan of the event, Austin is my favorite city in Texas and ranks in the top five in the country.  Shout out to San Francisco and Chicago as well.

Each year is special and I recall fondly my time spent with the mass of people who endure a new environmental nemesis while responding to the siren sound of the multi staged musical extravaganza.  In five wonderful years, I have seen fire (burning trailers while Pete Yorn performed and burning speaker while Bjork performed) and I’ve seen rain (thanks James Taylor), I’ve seen dust (Foo Fighters were absolutely worth the 2 weeks of brown soot seeping from my nose) and I’ve seen what some thought was mud (Eddie Vedder became one with the crowd and slid in it) but smelled a bit more pungent and was actually some animal fecal matter. 

Over the course of my attendance, I have seen some pretty amazing shows.  Listed below are just some of the high lights: 

Ben Harper Tom Petty Foo Fighters Pearl Jam
Beck Robert Plant & Allison Krause The Raconteurs Drive-By Truckers
Son Volt Donavon Frankenreiter State Radio Brett Dennen
The Dead Weather Damien Rice Cross Canadian Ragweed Arcade Fire
Amos Lee Robert Earl Keen Iron & Wine Mason Jennings
Van Morrison John Mayer Ray LaMontagne Wilco
G Love & Special Sauce The Toadies The Shins B-52’s
Slightly Stoopid Eli Young Band The Black Keys Okkervil River
Queens of the Stone Age Bjork The Killers Steve Earle
Bob Dylan Lucinda Williams The Tragically Hip Willie Nelson

Over the last few years, it has become a tradition for me and my long term, heterosexual, significant other, life partner to attend.  We eagerly anticipate the sale of the early bird tickets and the unveiling of the lineup.  She too is a huge fan of the festival and city.  Which makes the trip all the better.  While our musical tastes are similar, with the variety of acts available at the festival, we have a ritual of mapping out the days and comparing our schedules and see how close they match.  There is usually some slight difference with the day shows but most of the evening shows are fairly in-line

Last year was particularly memorable because we took our oldest children (her daughter, my son). It was my son’s first concert, he is fifteen and we share a pretty strong bond over music.  Several of his favorite bands were playing and I surprised him by waking him up early Sunday morning and driving to Austin and living vicariously through him as he excitedly took in the whole seen.  His first concert consisted of Brett Dennen, The Toadies, State Radio (his favorite), Ben Harper, and Pearl Jam.  Not a bad first concert.  As if this were not enough, he got to meet State Radio, get a picture with the band and their brand new CD “Let It Go” signed. The look on his face was priceless as he posed for a picture and the band talked to him for a few minutes.   Add to this day, Home Slice Pizza, two concert shirts, and the use of port-a-pots on the last day of a three day festival.  It was indeed a day to remember.

All this, is to say, if you have not attended ACL, I strongly suggest you take the time and attend a day or two if the thought of three days is too grueling.  I am a fan of the three days and love every minute of the music and the experience.  However, I recognize it is not for everyone and as I have gotten older I have come to realize that the recovery time is just a bit longer with each passing year.  My days include less beer, more water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and a chair.

So, if you have some time and disposable income, check out www.aclfestival.com.

Great music awaits!